The False Choice Between Palestinian and Jewish Liberation
The prevailing narrative that frames Israel as a colonial power suppressing Palestinians’ struggle for statehood grossly oversimplifies a complicated conflict and inadvertently vindicates the region’s most oppressive regimes. Achieving a durable, lasting peace requires moving beyond such facile analogies.
TEL AVIV – Israel’s forceful military response to Hamas’s October 7 massacre has sparked massive demonstrations around the world. Amid the ongoing war in Gaza, Israel has once again been cast as an oppressive colonial power in many Western circles, with the chant “Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea” becoming a common rallying cry on college campuses and social-media platforms.
But this perception has little to do with the reality on the ground. Contrary to what Hamas and its Western apologists believe, Israel’s sizeable Palestinian minority is not eager to be “decolonized.” A recent poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute found that despite not having full equality, the share of Palestinian Israelis who sympathize with the Jewish state has increased to 70% since the outbreak of the war in Gaza, up from 48% in June.
While the colonial nature of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is undeniable, it is also important to note that Palestinians’ Pavlovian rejection of Israel’s two peace proposals at the beginning of this century hastened the demise of the Israeli peace movement. The late Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat rejected the first proposal, the so-called Clinton peace parameters, in 2000 – a decision that was strongly condemned by the then-Saudi Ambassador to the United States, Bandar bin Sultan, who called it a “crime against the Palestinian people.”